Defense Minister's Remarks

Inauguration Speech by Defense Minister Toshimi Kitazawa (September 17, 2009)

(Provisional Translation)

September 17, 2009

I have just been assigned to the post of Minister of Defense. I am truly honored to assume the noble mission of administering the national security of Japan. At the same time, I fully recognize the importance of my mission and responsibilities.

Yesterday, at the time of my appointment as Defense Minister, Prime Minister Hatoyama gave me the following instructions:
(1) Ensure the peace and security of Japan based on the principle of an exclusively defense-oriented policy while retaining civilian control; and
(2) Closely coordinate with ministers concerned toward the revision of the National Defense Program Guidelines (NDPG) and the formulation of the new Mid-Term Defense Program.

The tragedies of history must not be repeated. The first step that brought Japan to the verge of collapse during the Showa Era was the emergence of military leaders insubordinate to the government's policy, and the atrophy of the government and parliament which failed to control them. Considering the lessons learned from history, ensuring civilian control under the political leadership of the Hatoyama Cabinet will be a task of extreme importance.

Following the instructions from the Prime Minister, I will devote all my power to maintaining the peace and independence of our country, fulfilling our responsibilities and roles expected by the international community, and living up to the mandate of the people of Japan.

The situation surrounding Japan's national security is changing so rapidly. The international community today is facing a range of issues including nation-to-nation confrontations as well as global issues such as the proliferation of weapons of mass destruction (WMD) and rampant international terrorism.

The missions of the Ministry of Defense and the Self-Defense Forces (SDF) are diversifying in order to meet these challenges. The people's expectation for the Ministry of Defense and SDF is becoming higher. At the same time, it will be extremely important for us to consider the future vision of the Ministry and SDF, and the roles they should play ? especially the policy on their overseas missions ? and seek the people's understanding.

Under this situation, the Ministry of Defense and SDF need to have a strategic perspective of the future of our nation and keep up various efforts for ensuring the peace and security of Japan. Notwithstanding the uncertainties of the time, each and every individual SDF member is required to be determined to overcome difficult challenges through creativity and action.

The Ministry of Defense and SDF has one role that will remain unchanged regardless of the time and no matter the situation. This role is to be the last bastion of defense of Japan.

The Ministry of Defense and SDF are entrusted to protect not only the lives and properties of the people of Japan, but also its industries, economy, and culture ? indeed everything which has been fostered and conducted in this country.

Therefore, I ask each and every member of the SDF to be fully aware that you are always with the people in ensuring Japan's national security, and to devote yourselves to your daily mission with such awareness.

I fully understand that what you have collectively built up over many years through accomplishment of your missions has won the people's high appreciation and holds up today's Ministry of Defense and SDF. On the other hand, I am keenly aware that reinforcing discipline and reestablishing order within the Ministry and SDF has never been sought more acutely than now due to a spate of regrettable incidents that betrayed the people's expectations.

No large organization is immune to corruption and malfunction. Therefore, rather than boasting the flawlessness of an organization, I believe it is much more sound and vigorous to create an organization that is capable of reflecting on its failures and overcoming them, and that holds a steadfast will not to permit corruption.

The Ministry of Defense and SDF are a large organization with about 270,000 personnel and the budget amounted to around 4.7 trillion yen. It has a noble mission to protect the people's lives and properties. I am bracing myself for the great responsibility I am about to assume.

Therefore, I would like to ask every one of you, who shoulder this great responsibility, once again to fully acknowledge the fact that it is the trust of the people that enable the Ministry and SDF to keep up activities.

Finally, I would like to introduce a line of poetry by Wakayama Bokusui.

"Another day comes, I sound the bell within my heart, and, sounding the bell, I go my way in search of an ideal (aku-gare)."

This expresses the poet's sentiment at the age of 23 as he left home for a journey. As you know, aku-gare is an ancient term for ako-gare (ideal). Each one of you must have had an "ideal" when you joined the SDF. It is important for you to reflect on and make effort to improve yourselves toward the ideal. That, I think, is the essence of an ideal.

I believe that your mission of protecting this country is accomplished by building up these sincere daily efforts.

I would like to conclude my inauguration speech as the Minister of Defense by sharing this thought with all of you and pledging that I will strive everyday to realize this ideal.

Toshimi Kitazawa
Minister of Defense